Here in the optical world, news that Google are working on “augmented reality eyewear” is being greeted with interest, granted, but it’s the kind of interest you show when a neighbour announces they are, for example, going to convert all their domestic electrical equipment to run on chicken droppings. Perhaps “bemusement” is a better word.
I dare say however that the A-to-Z map people (remember them?) felt the same way about Google’s first foray into cartography; similarly, Nokia probably chuckled around their Finnish boardroom table at the first announcement of Google’s Android Phone. “Google? Phones? Ho ho ho” etc, and now look. From Finnish to finished in under 5 years.
In fact, new branch-outs announced by the Chocolate Factory are frequently greeted with this kind of absolute surprise. To those who don’t follow the rumour blogs, most of Googles’ departures from their existing product range have been utterly unexpected. Often therefore an announcement that they are going into field X seems, as Douglas Adams once said, “not so much unlikely, more a sort of mismatching of concepts, like the idea of the Suez crisis popping out for a bun.”
However, the thing about Google is it’s like all tech evolution but speeded up a billion kazillion times, mainly because they have so many people, so much money, so much…. STUFF. One day, a bizarre, novel idea emerges; the next day they’ve cornered the world with it and former household brand names are relegated to the status of punchlines in nerdy jokes.
So while – in these early, naïve days – the usefulness of these Goggles will be limited to trivial, playtime features, it’s probably a good idea not to dismiss it all so quickly. One minute, it’ll be all “proof of concept” and “beta”; the next thing you know, everyone will stop buying televisions. The Sony, LG and Panasonic guys will find themselves hanging out with the Nokia, A-to-Z and Lycos dudes. At the Job Centre.
However, in the short term, expect lots of hilarious throwaway apps allowing you to put comedy face-masks on friends and imagine people with no clothes on. Sounds ok, actually.